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Friday, 01 December 2017


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Mike> "I really am writing too long these days. I need to stop that."

- no, please don't.

And as much as these Leica lenses fascinate me, I'm pretty happy with the PL 25mm/1.4 for µ43rds. And I would be equally happy with that Zeiss on one of the Sonys, I bet. Or maybe even with that 1.8 G Nikkor on a D610 (or a D750 with its tilting display).

I once owned a Leica M3. Still do but I damaged it beyond repair. Truthfully once was more than enough.

I didn't listen to my own advice. Lens selection first. I bought the Leica with a 50 something. Really needed a 35 something for street work. Instead I used my Nikon with my trusty 28.

In short always know what lenses you require before selecting the camera.

I did get a lot of ooos and aaaas while carrying the Leica. Funny thing I now get the same response carrying my Fujifilm XPro-1. And, yes, it has the 23 f2.

PS: I've completely forgotten why I wanted to write this comment. I remember, why so many posts about Leica? Are there really that many Leica owners out there or are the posts written for the dreamers? :)

F1.8 and 1.6 are third stop numbers. F1.7 is a half stop number.

[Typos nevre rest....Fixed now. Thanks Steve.

BTW, "F1.7" isn't standard...in the words of Wikipedia, "The f-number is commonly indicated using a hooked f with the format f/N, where N is the f-number." The minuscule hooked f is the symbol for focal length. --Mike]

>>Once in the late 1990s I decided to run a test to see if Leicaphiles could actually recognize pictures taken with Leica lenses.<<

I did the same once, at roughly the same time, and with Kodachrome 64 rather than Tri-X. I shot with a 50mm Summicron on a Leica M6 and a 50mm f/1.4 Canon EF on an EOS 1n. I shot the same scenes with the same framing and exposure with both cameras, one immediately after the other. The reactions of my Leicaphile friends fell into one of three groups:

1. Those who thought they could see a difference, but in fact could not.
2. Those who contested my methodology.
3. These who gave me a sly smile and said, "So what if there's no visible difference? That's not why I shoot with a Leica."

The truth of the matter was that I didn't really care what they thought; I wanted to see for myself, which I did. I won't say what conclusion I came to because, frankly, what difference would it make if the results with a Leica lens was "better" if said lens was too expensive to afford anyway?

Mike said: I really am writing too long these days. This free online word counter https://wordcounttools.com/ may be useful.

Word Count Tools said: Todays post is 1273 words, 6947 characters. Readability level: 11-12th grade student. The count started at Leica has introduced ... and ended at ... boy, do these dogs need to go out.]

I tend to write un-edited stream-of-conscience, sorta like I speak. Filled with two-bit words and 1950-60s SoCal slang. Therefore I spend a lot of time editing my writing. wordcounttools should help me edit and maybe help me lower the readability level.

About Leica lenses. If it wasn't designed by Berek, it doesn't fit my personal minimalist/surrealist vision. Puts said: The smooth and pleasant shapes and tones that can be recorded with the Berek lenses are part of the Leica heritage. The Bauhaus generation was focussed on the “New Vision” and the grand masters of the snapshot were concerned with the surrealistic juxtaposition of image elements. Erwin Puts Three generations of optical design: Berek, Mandler, Kolsch is worth reading http://www.imx.nl/photo/optics/optics/page93.html

For what it's worth, I suspect that the Summicron may be 43 times more likely to survive a drop from a shoulder bag to pavement than the Nikkor (or 43 times as many such drops). If someone were to send me a reasonable sample size of each lens, I'd be happy to put the conjecture to the test.

I believe Modern did a similar test decades ago with a variety of 50mm name brand lenses, and the end results were similar- No one could tell which lens took what photo. I think that, for the most part, the infamous "Leica glow" resides in the pride of ownership.

Those who can, do.
Those who can, buy a Rolex, those who can't buy a Timex. Both get to where they want to be at the same time. No one asks how they told the time. The person with the Rolex feels different about their timepiece than the person with the Timex. Ego, value, if it makes you feel good, why not?


Wait, Timex still exists? I haven't worn a watch in 20 years...my son's generation all have "modern pocketwatches." You ask them what time it is, they take their phones out of their pockets and look. --Mike]

Your discussion of the Leica fan who rejected your tests to see if there was a certain 'look' to Leica lenses, on the grounds of your film choice, tripod use, etc. etc., reminds me of the audiophiles who rejected all tests that can't find any difference between tube amps, or transistor amps, or one kind of CD player or the next. (One of my favourite audiophile test rejections – written up in a magazine – explained that even the "stress" that the test listener would be subject to, would make the difference too difficult to detect!) If that's truly the case, then the differences were too minor to bother with in the first place. Probably applies to lenses as well.

There are however definite differences in rendering between different lenses, and this is not hard to become aware of if you use a given lens a good amount and in different circumstances. To what extent these differences can survive all the other factors from sensor characteristics to post processing, that are called into play in any given picture is a point I wouldn't care to argue.

All that being said, I would LOVE to own that Leica APO-ASPH. LHSA. – so much more interesting for me than the Noctilux 75mm f/1.25 announced yesterday. I'll take mine in the chrome finish you show above. :)

My first reaction to seeing this lens was that now one can buy a Leica that looks like a Voigtländer. But it's really a testament to how faithful Voigtländer has been in giving their lenses a classic look and not in a bad way I think.

In this case I will defend Leica a little bit. The 50 APO 'cron is considered a very fine lens and the images certainly look impressive. Making this lens requires a small batch of a custom casing, which isn't cheap, and it looks stylish. Granted, when comparing to the Sony system the Sony will win purely because the far superior resoltion of the sensor, but the 50 APO 'cron is still in the unique position of offering an extremely compact high performance 50.

In my experience, that lens has never failed to please. It’s light and compact, sharp as a tack a couple of stops down from wide open, and the bokeh is pleasant.

I’m talking about Nikkor 50/1.8 of course.

When comparing lenses, or cameras, or cell phone cameras, or sensor sizes, or anything that's supposed to make better pictures, one important factor that I think IS important is to find the shot that lets one example shine and the other disappoint.

An example: it's easy to make iPhone photos that look almost as good as a DSLR photo -- as long as you're not shooting in the dark, or trying to show movement, or have a very high contrast scene, or want a shallow depth of field, or... A landscape on a bright but overcast day will look good shot with almost anything.

Same with a lens. Maybe the difference doesn't show up in a typical snapshot, but under high contrast, one lens might display way too much chromatic aberration. Or maybe one lens is distractingly soft in the corners. Or has a lot of distortion or...

Me, I love to print really big. I just shipped a 26x40" print to a show in Canada. I sympathize with the guy how found Mike's 11x14" prints inadequate for comparison.

And I like shallow depth of field. When I compare lenses, I check to see how sharp each is at the center of the frame. (I don't always need tack-sharp, but it's a hell of a lot easier to soften a sharp image than to sharpen a soft image.)

Re SoFoF
When I were a lad 'fof'was a polite abbreviation we used for F*** off.

I was standing at a bar one night and overheard a man boasting about his expensive watch. An old man beside him asked him for the time and on being told said ' Funny. Thats what my watch says also and it only cost thirty bob ( thirty shillings or £1.50) a risible sum

Perhaps the Leica is 40.something x better looking than the Nikkor :)

Or perhaps Leica is hitting up the LHSA club to pay for the next round of R&D, instead of the shareholders.

Leica lenses are designed/made in Canada by Raytheon:


[Not all of them. Mainly the ones with aspherical elements. And in most cases, enough final assembly and testing is left to be done in Germany to justify the "Made in Germany" label. --Mike]

Aside from the quality of the optics and construction of Leica lenses (I am a fan), there is something else to like, and that is the price of the lenses. It helps to consider that someone will be paying $12,800 for a 75mm lens, or $9895 for a 50mm lens, when I am trying to recover from the guilt of paying $1200 for a Zeiss Loxia! Of course, the wonderful images rendered by the Loxia also help greatly to alleviate the guilt.

About 15 years ago I went to a camera club meeting where we were doing a show and tell of prints. I think the only time I've been to a camera club!

Anyways... We kind of spread the prints all over the room and I had brought several inkjet prints with me. Mine were all shot on film and scanned, but taken with different cameras.

Someone in the group took a look at my prints and right away picked out two of them and declared .... that they were taken by a Leica. And then he added, or other rangefinder camera. And he was exactly correct. They were taken with a Kodak Retina IIIc in 1975.

How did he know I asked. And he responded that there is a difference in the look of the focus, and out of focus between SLR lenses, which must be mounted far from the film, and rangefinder lenses which do not need to clear a mirror box.

And I believe he's correct. My Canon 50mm f1.8 does look different than my 50mm f2.0 on the Retina IIIc.

In the end, I'm happy I can pass for a leica user with a $100 Kodak!

I was at a pawn shop today and fighting the urge to buy either or both a Pentax H1a and Praktica LTL. Had the Praktica been a bit cheaper, I'd have probably bit. Why? A beautiful m42 CZ Jenna 50/2.8 Tessar. The kind they call "Zebra". It would make an insanely good portrait lens on the 2x crop of a m4/3 camera like my Olympus E-P3; the sharpness of the center that melts into the almost buttery "not sharpness" of the edges that has always charactarized the Tessar design.

But not today, alas. That $135 (camera & 3 lenses) was just a bit too much right now. Might as well have been that LHSA lens at that point, for all it matters :D

Actually Nikon lens is better than Leica lens and that is how it launch its "career" when it was a Canon lens maker and discovered by somebody in People or something like that. But that is 50mm F1.4? May be F1.8 is different.

As per usual, pentax (or asahi) did it first. Pity there's no psha (pentax society for historical accuracy). And pity there is a uber rare 43 1.9 m39 mount pancake (real pancake) 1.9. I guess the best way to tell leicaphiles about what a good lens is is to have the 77 1.8 with m39 mount. One of the best lenses ever made according to our humble editor.

Tongue in cheek, that is.

Interesting. How does lens high-end hype/value compare to audio high-end hype/value in your opinion?

[Oh, audio completely slams photography in that regard. Far crazier. For a while I was collecting gems from reviews and such, but I'm not organized enough to do that sort of thing and I lost them. One that I particularly liked was in a review of a $70,000 amplifier...it went something like "Inside the glorious casework is a surprising amount of what appears to be empty space, but the designer claims the all-important signal path needs free but protected space around it to avoid electrical-field contamination." I'm paraphrasing wildly but it was something like that. Made me laugh out loud when I first read it. --Mike]

Given the response to your request from the Leica shooter, I'd say your experiment was a resounding success. If the way to recognise a lens's signature is to shoot it under such constrained conditions that they will never be replicated in real life use, then that lens, for all practical purposes, does not have a signature. End of story as far as I'm concerned.

As for the Pogue experiment, it doesn't surprise me. I've made wonderful poster prints with 6MP images from a 2005-era P&S. Needless to say, even nicer prints from a 10MP 2006-era DSLR, but no non-photographer can tell the difference.

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